How can you sell to customers if you don’t know who they are? Building customer profiles, or user personas, is a quick and easy way to ensure that you understand who’s buying from you and what motivates them. Read this quick guide to help you get started.
How well do you know your customers?
As owners of our brands, we’re on the never-ending journey of discovering more about our customers. Understanding their needs and desires helps us make important business decisions and ultimately sell more. You’ve likely heard time and time again that it’s important to create user personas to understand how to best cater to your audience.
If you haven’t created user personas for your online business before, or just aren’t sure how to get started, here’s a quick guide to keep you on track.
What are user personas and why are they important?
User personas are fictional characters that are used to help aid business decisions. There are several reasons why you’d want to create user personas, such as:
- Personas can assist with product development and selection decisions
- Personas help craft marketing messages more effectively
- Personas help make the most of your marketing dollars
- Personas come in handy for informing your internal team about who your customers are and why they buy from you
- Personas help you better understand the most critical part of your business – your customers!
What should I include in my user persona?
Building personas doesn’t have to be daunting and can be rather fun. While there are various models out there for creating personas, keeping it simple is key. These are the main items that are included across most personas:
- A name and photo
- Give your persona a personality, and assign a name and a photo to it. You can also give it a nickname, like “Blake the Techie.”
- Include details such as age, education, location, occupation, number of children, household income, etc.
- Behaviors and Values
- Define what your persona cares the most about. Expand on what she values most in life and how her behaviors coincide with these beliefs. At this level, you have the opportunity to make a brand connection that’s not possible at the demographics level.
- What is their goal in interacting with your brand? (e.g. Become more informed about your product, buy from you, tell a friend about your business)
What other details can I include to build a more comprehensive persona?
This is extra credit, but here are some additional questions you can ask while building user personas:
- What is your customer looking for when she comes to your website?
- Who does the customer seek advice from? What types of online and offline networks is she a part of?
- What motivates her to buy? (e.g. Product selection, price, quality)
- What types of questions does she ask before making a purchase decision on your website?
- What types of things does she value that extend to her purchasing behaviors?
- What types of information don’t resonate well with her?
- Why would she choose to do business with you instead of your competitors?
How do I gather the data to get started?
It’s easy to get started. Here are just a few ideas for ways you can find information about your customers:
- Run a customer survey post-purchase to understand who is shopping on your site. You can do this by sending a link to a survey in the order confirmation email, and use a tool like SurveyGizmo to set up a brief survey.
- Conduct interviews with a group of loyal customers
- Use existing analytics, login details, email or social media research to gain additional insights
- And remember – keep it simple. You don’t need 20 different personas in order to make decisions. Pick a primary persona and try to stick to 3 personas or less, otherwise you may get overwhelmed with user data.
User personas are a valuable resource for your online business. Use these quick tips to develop your own, and build upon them!
-Olga Kazakova, Volusion
Olga Kazakova, Director of Corporate Communications, is responsible for maintaining the Volusion brand across marketing communications. She works with the creative, development, event and social media departments at Volusion to educate merchants about Volusion’s product and services.
Olga is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with an MA in Advertising and BS in Public Relations.